The Arabic word ‘souk, souq’ simply means market or shopping centre, but it is generally used to refer specifically to the more traditional markets. The souk in Manama is more modern than those you will find in many Arab countries and even in other parts of Bahrain, but nevertheless is a colourful, bustling fascinating place. Goods on offer include local crafts, rugs, cotton and silk fabrics, gold and of course pearls, as Bahrain has long been a centre for the pearl trade. Although a lot of the shops in the Manama souk sell cheap clothing and electrical goods, you will be able to find virtually anything you are likely to want to buy hidden away in some corner or other, but this is not somewhere to go shopping if you are in a hurry, more a place to browse and bargain.
No visit to Bahrain will be complete without a visit to the Souk, just ask any cab driver to take you there – you will not be disappointed. An early morning visit is not only cooler, but you will see the hustle and bustle of the tradesmen going about their business. Everything from beautiful fabrics to spices and nuts are sold. Pass by the tobacco stalls where leaf tobacco is sold and look out for stalls where the traditional herbal remedies can be purchased – the vendors will quite happily explain the medical use of their herbs. If you are looking for souvenirs the choices are endless, from the beautiful Bahrain National Costumes which can be bought in children’s sizes to frankincense & myrrh. An all time favourite is the wonderful variety of nuts, dates, spices, and Arabic sweets.